I thank the Leader of the House for the forthcoming business. If I may start with some parish news: Bristol Rovers 7, Scunthorpe nil. I am sure the Leader of the House will join me in congratulating Gasheads on that win and the resulting promotion to League One.
We were all sad that on Tuesday Her Majesty the Queen was unable to address Parliament. The glaring obviousness of her absence is testament to her unfaltering dedication to our country. We wish Her Majesty well and look forward to celebrating her platinum jubilee.
What a contrast between two constitutional figureheads: one is iconic, capable and the epitome of the high standards that the British public hold dear; the other one is the Prime Minister. Speaking of huge disappointments, I turn to the content of the Queen’s Speech. The Tories promised renters reform in the previous two Queen’s Speeches; in this week’s—the third—there is a mention of a White Paper. The victims Bill has featured in four Queen’s Speeches and three manifestos and is still only in draft form. Gazing into my crystal ball, I see the future: me, months from now, asking, “Where have those Bills gone?”
There is nothing in the Queen’s Speech for women at work, or to close the pay, pensions or housing gaps that hurt women. There is no recognition of the rising child poverty rates that affect children in constituencies of Members from all parties, including those on the Government Benches. Will the Leader of the House please explain why the Government seem to have ignored women and children?
Last week, people from Cumberland to Wandsworth told this Government what they think of 15 Tory tax rises in two years, the cost of living crisis, inflation up, taxes up, debt up and economic growth stagnant. As there is clearly space in the business, will the Leader of the House ask the Chancellor to come to the House with the emergency Budget that Labour has long called for and that people throughout the country so badly need?
On 29 March, the House passed an Opposition motion that instructed the Government to place all documents, emails and so on about questions relating to the appointment of Lord Lebedev—a subject so ably explored by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Angela Rayner)—before the House by 28 April. I understand from advice given to me from clerkly quarters that because of Prorogation the deadline moved to this Tuesday, but either way it is still behind us.
When we debated that motion, the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, the right hon. and learned Member for Northampton North (Michael Ellis), said in his closing speech that, puzzlingly, the Government would not vote against the Opposition motion because
“the common practice is not to vote on Opposition motions”.—[Official Report, 29 March 2022; Vol. 711, c. 787.]
That must have been a surprise for the Leader of the House who, as Government Chief Whip in the 2019 Parliament, whipped his colleagues to vote down 50 out of 68 Opposition motions on subjects ranging from protecting leaseholders from unsafe cladding and supporting the steel industry to helping small business, and much more. Perhaps he can tell his colleagues—including, perhaps, his Cabinet Office colleague—why he instructed them to vote against those Opposition motions. Importantly, will he tell us exactly when his Government will comply with the motion that this House approved on the documents relating to Lord Lebedev?
The cost of living crisis, 15 Tory tax rises and the Government refusing to comply with the requirements of this House—what a mess. I really missed Big Ben and his friends ringing out across Westminster. Yesterday, we heard them once more, and the resumption of those chiming bells seems particularly apt, because this Government are certainly out of time.